You Can Solve All the World’s Problems in a Garden!

So much of our chronic health crises–our plagues of modern life–the world’s wars and refugee crises, global disease and starvation, the deteriorating condition of this beautiful earth God gave us, even the mental, emotional and relationship problems, they all stem from a lack of gardens.

“You can solve all the world’s problems in a garden.”― Geoff Lawton.

Sometimes I look at this quote and think really?  C’mon, the word all is always an indication of exaggeration.  Right?

But I keep finding evidences of it.  All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden.

Here is a non-comprehensive, unprioritized, unofficial, and inadequate but alphabetized list of problems in the world according to a mass of websites, organizations, think tanks and myself.  

  • Aging  – care, economics, respect
  • AIDS
  • Atomic Energy
  • Biosecurity
  • and more

So much of our chronic health crises, our plagues of modern life, the world’s wars and refugee crises, global disease and starvation, the deteriorating condition of this beautiful earth God gave us, even the mental, emotional and relationship problems, they all stem from a lack of garden.

Garden Defined
A place of beauty
and peace
where You
work hard
alone and with others
In partnership with God,
Giver of Life,
to grow food
and other resources,
Build shelter
security
relationships
For self, family, and neighbor
Learning,
experimenting,
discovering
Developing patience
Reaping what one sows
Subject to the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.

The most important part of a garden is soil. That is the foundation from which all things grow. The plants, animals, and people grown on earth, can only be as healthy as the soil from which they are nourished.

Look at the photos below and see if you don’t sense that in places where we have destroyed soil, we have brought desolation, and where there is desolation there is desperation and where there is desperation there is contention, suffering, starvation, violence and death. I don’t even have to mention health. It is not hard to imagine all the miseries of the earth stemming from our dead dirt. Lack of living soil leads to lack of life.

Car-Free Becomes Care-Free

Car-Free Part 5

By August we didn’t really have a formal discussion to keep going, we just knew we would.  We could make it until school started.  

You might wonder how our kids took to the experience.  I’ll spare you a kid-by-kid recital and share a story of one who is in the midst of a phase of life when caring about what people think is foremost in their minds. Our 18 yo daughter read Happy City, the classic life-is-better-without-a-car book, long before I did.  She happily rides her bike to church in her ever-present skirt–holding her head up and smiling through the miles.  We are continually amazed at how she has embraced the idea of slow, simple, optimized living.

The community garden produce is in full abundance.  It makes me giddy to pick armloads of melons and tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers, while listening to Happy City on a golden summer evening.  I load it all on the Haul-a-day.  Filling the front basket, the saddlebags and a large tub on the back seat, and wind my way home. It doesn’t all fit, two trips.  Hooray!  More time in the summer night air. Funny looks, friendly waves, questions.  I am not embarrassed by this anymore.  This feels good.  I get home and slice into a Khazak melon.  Hard orange shell, pale-green, crisp, sweet, almost citrusy flesh.  I eat the whole thing.  My children can each choose their own.  I could live on melons in August.

Life without a car has become carefree.  When did it happen?  When I stopped caring what other people think?  When I realized that when something gets hard, or scary, or the sidewalk or bike lane ends, the world doesn’t stop spinning.  I can look around and choose a new route.  With a little heavenly aid, I can solve any problem, get through any tough spot.  Best yet I have realized that often the best route is not on the sidewalk at all.

As the school-year approached I knew I had to face the realities of getting myself, and four of my children to school every Thursday.  (We homeschool and meet weekly across town with a Commonwealth School.)  Part of me wanted to be courageous and plan to ride bikes – at least while the weather is good.  But, as much as I had learned with our Artificially Manufactured Hardship, I wasn’t sure I was up to this challenge.  Riding by myself would have been one thing, but I also had to make sure my children made it, and as a teacher I couldn’t be late.  13 year old on the cargo e-bike, with our books and lunch, 12 year old on the e-bike with a bike trailer holding two little girls, and me on the road bike.  The twelve miles intimidated me, but mostly I was worried about the last quarter mile up Hwy 89. A left hand turn across four lanes of traffic onto a moderate shoulder. Fast traffic on a hill and somewhat blind corner.  We did live through our earlier experiences, but that doesn’t mean I would choose to repeat them.  I was becoming emotional with the stress of this situation.  Jonathan couldn’t come with us – he has to be at work.  Could I get us to school the first week?  The Saturday before Jonathan took us on a trial run.  We opted for the longer route, 15 miles, to get on the bike trail earlier and avoid a freeway overpass. It was a beautiful morning. We left at 7am, the time we would leave on Thursday. It was dark at first, and chilly.  We stopped several times to make adjustments and wait for each other.  We stopped for potty breaks at a park along the way.

By 8:30 – the time we hoped to arrive at school we were pulling up to the stoplight where we would turn left onto Hwy 89.  I was nervous.  Jonathan took the lead and I brought up the rear.  We had cars on our right and behind us.  They always keep way back, made nervous by bikes in the car world.  The light turned green. Adrenaline is pumping.  A train of four bikes with tail lights blinking and fluorescent yellow vests, we pulled out into the intersection and turned onto the shoulder on the right side of the road.  Because of the red light, it was a couple minutes before any cars were passing us in the lane next to us.  They were close.  But not as close as some other roads I’d been on.  There was a giant orange traffic sign in our shoulder “lane.”  Yikes!  “We’re taking the lane!”  I faintly hear Jonathan calling back to us.  I look back, it’s clear.  I signal with my left arm and move into the lane.  A little more adrenaline pumping.  We get around the sign and in another 200 yards we are turning onto the little street where glad eyes behold our school.  

I feel a wave of ecstatic exhilaration as we pull into the parking lot. We made it.  Without so many stops I’m sure we can make it in time for school.  It feels good!  And then we went home.

But the next day I was nervous again.  By myself?  What if something goes wrong, like a flat tire?  The traffic will be worse on a weekday.

Monday we bought a car.  We knew we would need one through the winter. Is that an excuse?  Am I quitting? I have to choose. Will I ride or drive to School on Thursday?  Will I step off the proverbial sidewalk everyone else is on?  

Wednesday night Cassidy and Wyatt both vote to ride.  I can’t let them down.  I get us up early and ready to leave by 6:45.  It is dark.  I am so nervous.  We check lights and tires and helmets and safety vests.  We all have gloves and mirrors, I have clear glasses for the bugs and stinging cold air.  Cassidy will lead.  Wyatt in the middle with the trailer.  I bring up the rear.  A few stops to catch everyone up.  Road construction – we have to weave through orange cones.  Will the trailer fit?  Yes. They don’t know the route well and want me to lead.  The sun is up now.  It is a beautiful morning on the bike path.   We aren’t keeping as fast a pace as I had hoped.  Will we be late?  Pedal.  Pedal.  Pedal.  We are nearly there.  Just the mile of dirt road, then the scary last quarter mile on the highway.  The dirt road vibrates through my road bike, making my hands numb.  Wyatt is struggling to navigate turns on a narrow path with a trailer.  The little girls in the trailer have finished their breakfast and are singing.   We are almost there.

I lead my children to take the center turning lane.  The light turns green.  This time I have to yell back to my children to take the lane when the orange traffic sign is blocking our shoulder.  There are more cars.  But we find a gap.  We get around the sign and safely onto the side street and up the hill to the church parking lot.  We made it.  In fact we are the second ones there.  We have to wait for the building to be unlocked.  We find a spot to park and charge the bikes.  We take off all our gear.  I did it.  I got us here alive.  I conquered my fear!

The first day of a new school year, then back home.  A flat tire.  I could call for a ride.  I’m at the end of a sidewalk.  Look around.  Make a choice.  We fixed it.  Raining.  I could call for a ride.   We might get too cold.  The kids vote keep biking. We won’t melt.  We’ve got this.  It feels liberating to not be shut down by a problem.  I am amazed at how fearless my children are.  Are they learning it faster than me, this new way of responding to a problem?  Or do children come that way, and somehow along the journey to adulthood, we learn to fear?

Almost to school on our third bike trip.

We rode three more times before it got too cold.  Each time it was faster, easier.  At least half the energy must have gone into emotion rather than pedaling the bike on the first trip.  Sunny mornings, crisp air, and a little exertion are the best way to prepare for a day of learning.  We have found a new route that we like even more.  I am happy to take a lane, knowing that we are visible to the poor persons stuck in their stuffy cars.  

Jonathan is still riding his bike to work.  His carpool buddy rides with him 3-4 times a week.  Kate is going several times a week across town to the college and a playhouse where she  performs- She has driven one time, and groaned about the mess of finding parking.

Car-free turned into care-free as I submitted to the artificially manufactured hardship.  I built muscles in my legs, and in my mind, and in my heart that made doing what I want to easier.  I learned that I don’t have to jump into a gulch when a sidewalk ends.  I don’t have to quit when it rains.  I don’t have to panic if my bike lane ends.  

I chose to get out of the car and off the sidewalk this summer and bravely forge my own path. Though I didn’t know why I was getting off the well paved path at first, just like taking a road less traveled in yellow woods, it has made all the difference.

 

 

Bikes loaded up for a camping trip.
Our Worst Bike Injury Award goes to Wyatt! 6 stitches on the chin and some nice scars to show off.

 

When the Sidewalk Ends

Car-free Part 4

For all my other outings, Jonathan was there to navigate and protect us.  We had a couple of conferences in Salt Lake City and found that biking there is easy, fun, and faster than driving.  A no brainer.  Hotels happily let you keep your bikes in your room.  Even the airport is bike-friendly with covered bike parking closer than any car lots–and free!  

 

We visited bike shops and talked to a couple young, single men who have gone car-free for a couple of years. If they can do it, surely, we could do it with our 5 in tow.  😉.  We test rode the e-bikes, and became familiar with the tools of the trade and lifestyle of car-free.

 

I was learning that lots of people get around the world without a car.  And not just weirdos.  Professionals, college students, youth, young families.  We met all kinds on the train and buses.  We learned that when you ride a bike or walk, you are more open to interaction with others.  You have little friendly conversations with the person next to you at the intersection, rather than being isolated in your own car-bubble.  It feels good to interact with people, even strangers.  In fact, after you talk with them, they lose their strangeness.  They are no longer weirdos, but people.

We did one family adventure to the aquarium in Draper.  We used buses and a train for most of it.  It was 2 1/2 miles to the aquarium from the train station.  Being a healthy bunch, we thought we would walk it, and stop in a grocery store along the way for some extra snacks.  We set off on nice wide city sidewalks.  A mile later the sidewalk ended abruptly at the edge of a six foot deep gulch.  

 

I have walked to the end of many sidewalks.  I start down a road eager for a new adventure.  I know where I am going. I can see a beautiful destination in the distance, but I forgot to study the route to get there.  I set out happily on the journey and I end up staring into a gulch, with no path forward. My nicely paved sidewalk, the steps I knew how to do, have come to an end.  I am not surprised when there are problems along the way of life.  But sometimes I get to that gulch and I jump off the edge of sidewalk into the muddy gulch.  What a silly choice.  I find myself bruised and cold.  The sun is blocked and my view is blocked by the high sides. I know I brought myself to this miserable spot.  I am angry with myself. Depressed.  I  drag my family in with me.  

I expend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to climb out.

We were on the side of a winding six-lane highway.  There were no buildings for a couple blocks in any direction.  Just empty fields.  It was at least a mile back to a light or crosswalk.  The traffic was sparse so, believe it or not, we jaywalked to the sidewalk on the other side of the highway.  That was an adrenaline rush I would prefer not to have again, certainly not with five children in tow.  

It took courage, but it wasn’t really hard. Once we looked around, considered our choices and made a decision, walking across a six-lane highway (that was happily devoid of cars) was no more difficult that walking on the sidewalk.  How many times in the past, have I gotten to the end of the sidewalk and jumped into the gulch, without even giving a look around to the other possibilities? How often is taking a different route really no harder than what you were expecting the original route to be?  Can I follow this new pattern in the future?

For dinner we walked to Costco (who walks to Costco?), bought a pizza, 

some salads and downed an entire case of Vitamin Water.  The overall day was a wonderful adventure of new experiences.  We got out of our comfort zones, and proved to ourselves we could have a fun day – without a car – even in suburban sprawl.

When the Bike Lane Ends

Part 3 Of Cars, Bikes, and Sikewalks 

Part 1: Artificially Manufactured Hardship

Part2: Carless and Stranded

July came and we committed to Car-Free for the month.

I had not yet seen the benefits of our artificially manufactured hardship.  So I must need more of it, right?  I had not really done any hard things in relation to not owning a car.  I had chosen to clean out the house in June.  My children and I went through every room and got rid of everything we didn’t use or love.  For two weeks I hadn’t biked farther than Crossfit or a school meeting – only a couple miles from home.  Not difficult on a bike in June.

We told family we would not be coming to Sunday dinners for the summer.  “We need the time to plan our week and meet with our children.  We are cocooning, trying to work on some family systems that really need attention.”  I couldn’t bring myself to tell my mother that I was choosing to go car-free over coming to visit her this summer.  How do I help her to understand something I don’t understand?

Slowing down went well one week, and not the next.  I was happy and enjoying the sunshine and garden and my children most of the time… but I kept having some really down days.  There was definitely stress when I had to choose to get places on a bike or bus, or tell my friends and f

Wyatt assembling the Haul-A-Day

amily we wouldn’t be there.  If I’m being honest with myself I was embarrassed to take the bus, so I avoided it.

 

Jonathan was submerging himself into the car-free world.  Researching electric bike motors, Cargo bikes, the best routes, safety, and gear to make it better.  Bike Friday bumped us up on their 3 month waiting list to get us a custom cargo bike in two weeks when we told them our car-free goal.

————-

The Haul-A-Day with our four youngest children.

I took one adventure to Layton with my 11 yo son and 3 yo daughter.  We all piled on the brand-new Bike Friday Haul-i-day, a cargo bike that can hold 2 passengers or 450 pounds of cargo, and rode 5 miles to the train station, then another 2 miles in Layton to go see a cool recumbent bike.  We were meeting a wealthy entrepreneur-inventor-businessman friend of my father’s, as part of our getting to know the bike world. Like many paradoxes in life, I was excited for the meeting and it was completely out of my comfort zone to get there.

Here’s the thing, I was new to balancing the heavy bike. It is more squirrely with a large load.  I was unfamiliar with navigating the bike-friendly routes. As if proving my inadequacy, we unwisely rode down the most unfriendly bike road in downtown Ogden.  I only thought we would die a couple of times.  At one point the sidewalk was buckled a foot high all the way across.  I didn’t see it until our front wheel was reaching the peak and my son saved us by quickly putting his feet down to keep us from crashing.

“Careful, Wyatt!”  I yelled, terrified.  Why do I lash out with ridiculous words at my child when I am frustrated with myself and afraid for their sake?

The other near-catastrophe was when there was no sidewalk and no shoulder over a bridge, so we were sandwiched between the metal railing and large  trucks  going 40 mph.  We could feel the road vibrating and my balance was thrown off by the wind from their passing.  If we had stuck an arm out it would have been taken off.  We lived though!   We got to the place we were meeting, rode an amazing, luxury designed recumbent trike.  We all fell in love with it, but it was not in the budget.

Coming home was another new-to-biking scary adventure.  We had to make a left turn on the top of a freeway overpass–I thought.  I was in a designated bike lane as I started up the hill.  Two feet wide, with a bike painted every 100 yards. Yeah!  I feel safe. But near the top, the bike lane disappeared.  I was nearing a messy intersection with traffic entering and exiting the freeway from at least six directions.  If I stayed in the shoulder I would end up on the freeway.  I had to change lanes and ride with traffic. Look over my shoulder, keep the bike balanced, weave through the cars to get over a lane, no two lanes. Stop at a light.  Do I look over and smile at the driver next to me?  Will they call CPS for having my children in this situation?  Will the cars behind us be annoyed  that I don’t go 40 miles down this hill ahead of me?

This is the overpass.

Miraculously we lived.  We found ourselves on the other side of the freeway in a dead-end trailer park entrance.  Breathe.  Regroup.  We are still breathing – that means we lived through it.  Should I have crossed the street and ridden against traffic before the overpass?  Or should I have crossed 4 lanes of traffic to get into the left hand turning lane at the top?  I do know I have to get back over the overpass to get to the train station–at least this time it will be a right hand turn.

That took more guts and courage than I have ever put out.  Mama Bear came out.  Is this what doing hard things and getting out of my comfort zone looks like?  Am I learning something from this, besides don’t take a bike on Wall Avenue or over the freeway overpass?  Maybe when I do hard, terrifying things and live through it, I become a little stronger, braver.  Maybe I learn that when things go wrong, and my bike lane ends, I only have to keep making the best choice I can in the moment, that things will work out.  That God is with me.  That I am capable of moving forward.  

Carless and Stranded

 … we were driving home from my sister’s house at night and hit a deer.  My husband slowly coasted the van to a stop by the side of the highway and turned on the hazard lights.  We sat quietly for a few minutes, each of us in our own thoughts.

My first thought was, “Oh no! I guess this one car idea wasn’t so smart after all.  Now we are stuck on the highway, and can’t just call our daughter to come get us.  We can’t be self-reliant with only one car.” Independence is a high core value for us.

Then, I looked at Jonathan and we both started laughing.  I knew the same crazy idea was going through his head:  “We should see how long we can make it without any cars.”

 

A kind stranger towed our broken van to a parking lot and drove us home.  That night we talked through the possibility of going car-free.  It sounded romantic, living the healthy, simple, slow life that would work with no car.  We talked through all the places we go and how we would get to them by walking, biking, or using public transportation.  It could work–we were sure of it.  Sort-of.

There was also reality flooding in.  What about visiting my parents?  10 miles of narrow canyons with no easy bike routes.  We needed more bike gear.  Better brakes on one bike.  A new bike stroller.  More bike locks and bike lights.  Safety vests. We also had a wish list: Jonathan wanted an e-bike or two.  A cargo bike or trailer.  Better brakes, gears, seats, padded bike shorts…

We committed to the end of June.  Two weeks with no car.  

I wanted to stay home and go slow for the summer, so I hardly noticed the lack of car.  

Jonathan, on the other hand, had to conquer his first day of riding to work. 14 miles with busy roads and intersections.  A trail we hadn’t previously known existed.  Not quite ready to commit, he took a bus card because he wasn’t sure he could make it the whole way.  He left a half-hour late, checking and re-checking his bike, the route he was planning to take, and just fretting in his own engineerish way.  But he finally left, full of stress and anxiety, leaving the mood lingering in the house.  I know other people (there must be tons of people, right?) that have ridden a bike for 14 miles and survived just fine.  He is a big boy, why is this such a big deal?  We said we wanted to do hard things.  We chose this.  He chose this.  This is not feeling like the heroic, simpler lifestyle we were expecting…

 

At home, I’m massaging the chore systems and routines into a comfortable place.  How is it that I wash a sink full of dishes and in a couple of hours it is full again?  How is it that when I write up a new schedule for my daily routine the next day I find ten interferences to throw it off before breakfast?  I was going to spend the day in the garden and finish planting the empty rows, but it was 3 pm and 100 degrees before I got through my “morning” routine. My old friend despair rears its ugly head. Why does staying home, having a summer so-called-break not give me any more time to do what I want?  What do I want to do anyway?

 

…and at the end of the day he came home hot, sweaty and emotionally drained.  And elated.  He had conquered it.  He made a hard choice.  Got way out of his comfort zone.  Day 2, day 3, day 4…it only got easier from there–for him.  

My first ride to Crossfit – 2 miles down our main street, I wasn’t really sure about bike rules, I just rode on the sidewalk.  It felt safer.  But oh, the bumps from every seam in the sidewalk when you are on a road bike.  Ouch!  Well, at least I am mostly unnoticeable to all the people driving past.  I won’t pop a tire on the road or make a fool of myself at an intersection.  What am I doing?  Riding a bike to the gym? The only people on bikes in North Ogden are 12 year olds.

This is part 2 of the 5 part series, Of Cars, Bikes, and Sidewalks

Part 1: Artificially Manufactured Hardship

Part 3: When the Bike Lane Ends

Book Discussion On Pawn of Prophecy, coming soon!

We have been reading Hero Education, by Oliver DeMille and  were inspired.  It felt like the first time I read his first book.  I felt understood and justified for what I want.  I was given a clear plan and better vision of how to reach the goals I have for my family.   More than anything I want to raise children who are prepared to serve God by serving their fellow men in sustainable, meaningful ways.  In other words I want to raise entrepreneurs.

My oldest, age 18, read the book, loved it, and dove right in.  She has been more focused and excited than I have seen her in months.  She chose ten books she hopes to read in two weeks.  Her method of choosing was to take the first ten from his list that she hadn’t read, but we did have on our shelves.  One lunch she wants to talk over The Law, by Bastiat, the next breakfast it was The Great Brain by Fitzgerald.  She poured through Education of a Wandering Man, as though it was sugar-candy fiction.  All along the way she has been taking copious notes.

The next week Cassidy dumbfounded me by announcing that she feels called to follow suit, letting go of the classes she is in.  This boils down to a youth saying she wants a serious leadership education more than she wants friend time.  She still plans to study the content of those classes, just faster or perhaps more in depth on her own.   It is a rewarding moment for mom when the plan and vision comes to fruition.

So we are pivoting our homeschool – or as I am starting to call it – our Self-school.  The only real education is self-education.  My job as mother is simply to show them what is possible and respond to their desires, making possible what I can. – Did I say simply?  The more I  keep heading down the path of read, write, discuss, the more simple our lives become – and happy.

To fulfill the well-rounded needs of this beautiful Hero Education plan, my daughters need to engage in discussions on meaningful books with other people.  So here is the first book they chose:

The Belgariad series

Pawn of Prophecy

by David Eddings.

February 24th, 2:00 pm

Anyone who would like to read the book, come with notes to discuss, and show up at our house is welcome.  We’ll have the treats.

 

Artificially Manufactured Hardship

In the beginning of June we we lost our little commuter car in a rollover accident. Do you like the way I write that so calmly, without even a hint of an exclamation point? Kate, 17, and her 13 year old sister, were driving home from a Homeschool Conference late at night through a canyon known for its slick roads in bad weather. It started to rain and visibility was poor when she hit the rumble strip, then over corrected… There were loud crashing and popping sounds. She smelled smoke. She saw sparks. Fire! Panic. Adrenaline. Get out! Upside down. And as if that wasn’t enough, her door was stuck shut. The passenger window was broken open, so they unbuckled and fell to the roof. Before the car even stopped sliding, or another car had seen them, they had both climbed out and miraculously walked away. Only a scraped knee and a few bruises. The smoke was from the airbag explosives, the sparks from the metal scraping on the asphalt and concrete barrier. The car was destroyed, but for a rollover accident the results were nothing less than miraculous.

A week earlier
I was overwhelmed with school and the hectic busyness of life. The end of year has so many things to finish up with final projects and presentations, organizing everyone for the summer as well as pre-planning next school year… but it was warm and sunny outside. The robins and soil and sunshine were calling to me, but I wasn’t able to answer.

I was stuck inside, literally in the house and in my mind, frantically moving from one thing to the next–willing the depression and anxiety to stay at bay. There was too much going on for those demons. But they always surface when stress is high, when I am not balanced, when the plan is only fuzzy and I am winging things most of the time, reacting rather than responding. The only proactive part had happened several months before when I dreamed up and chose all these projects … But I really don’t want to finish them now. Always when I am in this frenetic place I want to run to something new, a greener pasture. There are dandelions in that new pasture, but I can’t see them from here.

 

12:30 am. The girls weren’t home yet. It wasn’t Kate’s number but it was definitely her voice, “Dad, I wrecked the car.”
The accident scene was well lit with a long line of flashing lights. Jonathan unrolled our window to the chilly wet air. “We’re the parents.”
“It’s a miracle your girls are alive.” The officer waved us forward and as we drive slowly along, we are met with warm smiles and flashlights waving us onwards. We pass the little black heap of metal, a tow truck is lining up. Disbelieving that this used to be our car.
The whole scene had a spirit of relief and joy and we were warmly escorted through the stopped traffic to the ambulance. The officers and EMTs had come expecting to pull out bodies.

Our girls were both sitting up on the gurney wrapped in old quilts from a stranger’s trunk. They were shaky, but smiling. A little paperwork. One last check for concussions.

When we come so close to the border of life and death we stop to reflect. All the frantic to-dos and overwhelm of busyness turn into a fuzzy background. The things that come into focus are the matters of our inner heart. I’ve lost a child before. I know a mother lives through it. At least she keeps breathing, and eventually she returns to living. But it requires a journey of discovering why you want to keep breathing. What are you living for? This time death, even injury, has been kept at bay. There is a reason, I know. I am awake now. What am I supposed to learn from this? What do I need to do, to change?

 

Driving home at 2 am, we gave thanks to God. We rehearsed all the details of what had happened. We laughed–it is the preferred alternative to crying because it helps the emotions emerge. Eventually, we talked about what to do next. We could buy another car by scraping together the money so we could pay cash – our rule… This one has to be a 4 door. Two doors was annoying… Yes, another stick shift. They are less expensive to buy and maintain… Jonathan will start looking at reviews…

“What if we try going back to being a one-car family?” It was my voice. “I really want to slow down anyway.”
How in the world could a family of 3 drivers survive with one car? That would be insane. I would be stuck at home most days. What about shopping, field-trips, playdates, appointments, classes, getting together with cousins? Kate goes places too. It would require much more planning, and we are already failing at our planning attempts.

Jonathan, looked over at me. “Do you think we could do that?” The uncertainty clear in his voice.

“School is now out, I don’t have many commitments. It will help me to slow down, get out in the yard more. This seems funny to say but it would force us to live more like we wanted to. We would have to plan and ride bikes to close places.” My own words were still surprising me.

“Well, I guess we are stuck with one car for a while until we find time to research and buy a new one. We’ll just see how long we can procrastinate and make it.” Smile on his face.

What have I started?

“I think we could make it with one car” Kate chimes in. I am guessing she doesn’t have much desire to drive after tonight.

 

When we moved to our little house 2 years ago, we purposely looked for a location central to much of what we do, so we could walk and ride bikes more. It was a healthier, happier, simpler, slower way to do things. An ideal we had fallen in love with. The first couple months we did ride bikes quite a bit, but as life got busy, and the weather turned cold, we reverted back to driving, and many of our bikes fell into disrepair. In the chaos of this spring–only our 11 year old son was riding a bike.

Now Jonathan and I decided to try something crazy – go back to a 1 car family. We wanted to stick it out for the long haul. We hadn’t been a one car family since we moved to Utah more than 10 years ago. Everything in Utah is so spread out in suburban sprawl, that a car for each driver seems a necessity. Dad takes one to work all day, Mom has one for ferrying children around. In our modern world don’t you need a car for every driver? Most families we know with a teen driver have 3 cars.

We were quite proud of our brave decision to just keep one car, knowing it would help us plan ahead, bike more, and simply slow down. It was an artificially manufactured hardship. Jonathan had been using this phrase a lot to describe how to prevent spoiling children in our prosperous, have-everything-instantly world. By choosing a difficult situation we could create a setting for growth, force ourselves out of a comfort zone, and have more required of us than our modern world usually demands. I think it could be called suffering on purpose!

Our world demands much from us both mentally and emotionally, but it is easier to develop the stamina for hard things when we practice in a physically demanding arena. A tangible challenge is easier to see progress in. The muscle memory to do hard things is developed more slowly and subtly in the emotional realm than in the physical one.

Keeping only one car was a way to put ourselves–adults–into an artificially manufactured hardship. We needed some emotional growing up.

Then two short weeks later…

This is part 1 of a 5 part series. To find out what happens subscribe at the right.

A Real Day on a Journey Out of Darkness

I had a very see-saw ironic experience yesterday.

My morning started great with a mentor meeting that went very well. My mentee indicated that the topic I had chosen to discuss was what she had been struggling with the day before. Yea! I love it when I am in-tune with the Spirit and can help another. I want so much to be an instrument in God’s hands.

Then I woke my children and gathered them for morning scripture study. It went okay. I had prepped some content ahead – something I don’t always do, but I was on an inspired roll! However, as we all got up to go about morning chores and breakfast, something snapped in me, and I became frustrated, overwhelmed at the little messes in every single room, and I found myself on a tirade “No one is going to eat until everything is picked up – in your bedrooms and every other room in this house!” Then, of course, I couldn’t eat either and hangry was part of my problem. Oh, how I hate the monster who puts that look in my little one’s eyes. What monster has made my strong, fun-loving, hard-working, 12 year old son cower. The tension and tears I had created didn’t subside until after we got through breakfast. But we did recover. I apologized. My children are well practiced at forgiving, and we soon moved forward with our usual peaceful, cheerful atmosphere.

But I was still feeling like I had failed. I had once again turned into a dragon that hurts her own children. A Mrs. Jekyll. I have been trying so hard to change that part of me. And it seems to surface out of nowhere.

Late morning, we had a knock on our door. A cousin, who lives nearby, was asking one of my daughters if she could babysit. I invited her in. We visited for a while. She is dealing with a hard situation and a few of her sentences reminded me of a book I recently read, so I handed it to her. As she left, she hugged me and said, she loved the light and the spirit in our home. At the time I dismissed her words in my mind – I knew what kind of “spirit” I had created earlier and it wasn’t light.

That afternoon we had a playdate scheduled with another homeschool family that we had just become acquainted with. The children happily tumbled through the house and yard. The mom and I got to have a delightful conversation sharing our homeschool journeys, common interests and the joys and struggles we are experiencing.

Then as yesterday evening progressed – I could tell I was edgy, moody. I was trying my hardest to laugh at myself and make my irritability not be irritating to my family. But eventually I broke. My husband made a comment that I blew out of proportion and took offense to. It took another 45 minutes – a good part of which I was sulking, to talk it out and make peace again. Happily we did make peace – completely. We went to bed as best friends with full hearts.

But I knew I had blown it again! I had driven the to spirit from all of my most precious relationships in one day. Why do I do that? It seems hypocritical to be calm, warm and loving with others, when I struggle in my family relationships. I know I am not the only person on earth with this defect. And we don’t do it on purpose or even consciously. I feel like I find myself in that cranky state, in the bottom of a pit and transformed into a monster and don’t even know how I got there!

This morning, my friend who came for the afternoon texted me a thank you and used the same words as my cousin: “the spirit in your home” and “the light in your home.” I cried.

My epiphany is that God can use me in my oh-so-imperfect state to share light. Every moment that is good and light and full of Spirit counts. It counts as good.

I do still end up in a gulch, acting like a monster occasionally. Okay, once or twice a month. But I can say it is much less frequent, shorter lasting, and less intense than it used to be. I am going the right direction. I have improved my skills and abilities. The tools and principles I am learning do make a difference. I am changing. But change that is lasting, usually takes time. If God forgives me, my beloved husband and precious children forgive me, then I had best forgive myself and get up and try again. I often tell my children that anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first. I suppose that goes for living too.

Halloween Needs an Upgrade!

We love to celebrate!

cel·e·brate (verb) To publicly honor a person or event with marks of joy, rituals, activities and gatherings.

What are you celebrating at Halloween?  Most people I ask say, “I just use it as a chance to have fun.  It doesn’t really have a meaning.”

I love to have fun, and I love it even more when my life, my heart, my mind, my relationships are made better for the fun I had.  I love fun that when you leave you take a part of it with you, and become better for it.  Epic Fun!

Turns out with a little dusting and a slightly modern twist we can celebrate Halloween with spirit, meaning, excitement, purpose and fun!  It was started as a way to remember all the good people who have lived before us.

The “Hallow” in Halloween means a saint or good person.  This is the ultimate chance to celebrate all the Heroes from History.  For those who love genealogy it is also a perfect chance to celebrate ancestors.

This Halloween do something to honor one of your Heroes who has gone before.  Dress up as them, read about them or watch a movie of them, do something like they would have done…

Or come celebrate with us…

Order your dinner $5 before Oct 27th.  At the door will be $7.00

Soups


If you would like to volunteer at this event or help make it bigger next year email me at emilysatt@gmail.com

If you would like to donate to make this an incredible experience and upgrade the culture of Halloween – any amount is appreciated!  All funds raised will go to putting on this event for this year or next, after the $1500 fundraising goal is met for the hosting organization, www.LIFECommonwealth.com